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Task 59 Newsletter Winter 2020-2021

You have received this free email newsletter because you have subscribed to it to receive news about the project Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy (HistoricNZEB).

Welcome to Task 59's Winter Newsletter 

The International Energy Agency's IEA-SHC Task 59: Renovating Historic Buildings towards zero energy (HistoricNZEB) showcases examples of how historic buildings from across the world can be renovated to allow substantial reductions in energy use and associated carbon dioxide emissions, while safeguarding the buildings’ cultural significance.

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This newsletter gives you an overview of the project’s latest case studies added to the HiBERATLAS platform, our new blog posts and publications, and updates on the project’s meetings and workshops.

On behalf of all the project’s partners and associates, we would like to thank you for subscribing!


Task 59 Final Conference

The registration for the SBE21 conference is now open! Visit to register and for more information.

From the 14th to the 16th April 2021, the SBE21 Heritage Conference will bring together experts working in the fields of energy efficiency and historic building conservation to foster multidisciplinary dialogues and find new affordable and efficient retrofit approaches for historic buildings and municipalities. Scholars and practitioners worldwide have submitted a range of papers and are looking forward to sharing their contributions.

Considering the rapidly changing situation with regards to COVID-19, we announce that delegates affected by travel restrictions will be granted online access to the SBE21 Heritage conference.

SBE21 Heritage will take place as a hybrid virtual-physical event. We will do our best to make online experience as close as possible to in-person participation.


Latest Cases

The beta version of HiBERATLAS is continuing to grow. It includes 40 case studies, with more coming soon. Today we are presenting three of the new cases added to the website. Please continue to check back as new projects and features are added to the platform:

Klitgaarden, Hundested, Denmark

The building is located in Hundested, in the northern part of Zealand about seventy kilometres northwest of Copenhagen, Denmark. Klitgaarden is a free standing single-family house from 1875 in two stories with a total of 221 m2. The building is erected with solid masonry walls and a foundation of granite boulders on top of a stone foundation. The renovation project of the building aimed for a minimum heating requirement and a preservation of original outdoor facade details. It was finished in 2016. The renovation was motivated by a very high-energy demand for heating and in general the fact that the house had not been used in twenty years.

Single Family House, Gstaad, Switzerland

Every year in Switzerland more than 2,000 agricultural holdings are abandoned. The buildings often remain unused (CVP-Mo 11.3285). A redevelopment or conversion of older buildings into residential buildings is not always possible due to the federal legal restrictions on the preservation of cultural landscapes. It is questionable what a half- decayed building can do on a planet rendered uninhabitable by global warming due to development. Gabriela Matti proves that traditional buildings can easily be combined with the latest technology with the conversion of the unused Maiensäss in Gstaad. A comprehensive renovation transformed the unused and unheated wooden house into a modern PlusEnergyBuilding, that hasn't lost its "old charm."

Maison Rubens, Schaerbeek, Belgium

The “maison Rubens” is a typical middle-class row house from late 19th century, in neoclassical style. It reflects the Belgium bourgeoisie life at this period. House is organized in 3 zones: a main part including reception and living space (2/3) and secondary space for stairs, services and corridors (1/3). It has a heritage interest within its decorated front façade (balcony, ceramic tiles and blue stone) and the stucco ornamentation on the ceiling and cornicing at the top of the wall, as well as its marble mantelpiece. Since 1888 (date of construction) no major renovation had been done. The building was almost in its original condition, but in very bad conservation state. The renovation followed two main goals: i) very good insulation (using bio-based materials) and mechanical ventilation of the whole house while conserving the valuable heritage details. ii) energy consumption below 60 kWh/m²y.

NEW BLOG POSTS - updated monthly!

Thermal performance of historical masonry structures: experimental data and numerical modelling

To promote more conscious reuse of historic buildings, it is necessary to deeply understand the thermal performance of historical built heritage, which is often characterized by masonry beam system. This study aims at assessing, through experimental measurements and numerical simulations, the thermal performance of the exterior walls for a building belonging to the historical heritage in Catania, Southern Italy. San Giuliano Palace, whose main front is reported in Figure 1, was built in the XVIII century as the residence of a very notable family, and currently hosts the administrative offices of the local University. Click here to download the blog about thermal performance.

Embedding thermal comfort into retrofitting design

Reducing energy consumption in the built environment is one of the severest challenges of our times. This blog is arguing for the inclusion of thermal comfort into the retrofit design from the outset. Recognised as the prime objective of most construction, thermal comfort of occupants should be at the forefront of design decisions for retrofit ventures. Click here to download the blog about embedding thermal comfort.

Partner Profiles: 

Belgian Building Research Institute

The role of BBRI lies in the collection of best practice cases, in the identification of best technical solutions for the retrofitting of historical buildings and finally the dissemination of the results. 

From left to right, Michael de Bouw, is the Head of the Retrofitting and Heritage Laboratory. He is a Civil Engineer-Architect (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, 2003). After his studies, he started working at the ORIGIN architectural firm and then undertook a PhD at VUB. Samuel Dubois is a project manager at BBRI and guest lecturer in ULiege where he teaches Building Physics. He holds a PhD in hygrothermal modelling obtained from Gembloux ABT. Julie Desarnaud is a physico-chemist expert in building materials, with a PhD on salt weathering on building stone. Yves Vanhellemont is assistant head of the Retrofitting and Heritage laboratory. He studied physics, civil engineering, and is master in Conservation of Historic Towns and Buildings.

Fraunhofer ISE

The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE creates the technical prerequisites for an efficient and environmentally friendly energy supply, both in industrialized, emerging and developing countries. With its research focus on energy production, energy efficiency, energy distribution and energy storage, it contributes to the broad application of new technologies for the transformation of our energy system towards sustainable and renewable sources.

Arnulf Dinkel, on the left, has successfully applied all kind of renewable energy techniques and efficiency tools during his career as architect. His current work is focused on energy efficiency measures in residential and non-residential building stocks and the related needs for efficient components, related controls and the transfer into digital environments. Johannes Eisenlohr, on the right, holds a PHD in physics and manages projects within the solar façade group. His work focus is the detailed modeling of building-integrated photovoltaics - from component and environmental data to the system output as well as BIPV in general.

Drexel University

Drexel University, established in 1891, is a comprehensive research university organized in 15 colleges and schools.  The Department of Architecture, Design and Urbanism offers degree programs in architecture, interior design, urban strategy, and design research.

Daniel Chung, PhD, licensed architect and professional engineer, is an Associate Professor specializing in building envelope performance and design.  His current research focuses on building simulation, analysis and diagnostic verification of building envelopes in both historic and new buildings to better predict the effects of climate change on buildings.

University of Catania

With an average enrolment of 40,000 students, the University of Catania has been around for hundreds of years since 1434 and is oldest one in Sicily. The educational system is run and overseen by 17 departments. One further educational unit (School of Architecture) is located in Syracuse.

From left to right, Vincenzo Costanzo, MEng, PhD in Energetics and currently researcher at the University of Catania (Italy). He has been involved in various international research projects such as REELCOOP, LoHCool and H2020 project e-SAFE. Gianpiero Evola, MEng, researcher and assistant professor of Building Physics at UNICT (DIEEI). He has a PhD in “Building Physics”. Alessandro Lo Faro, Architectural Eng, he has a PhD in "Historical Building Refurbishment". He works at UNICT (DICAR). Luigi Marletta, Full Professor of Environmental Physics at UNICT (DIEEI). He has focused his research work on renewable energy systems, energy engineering systems and building physics. Francesco Nocera, Associate Professor of Building Physics and Building Energy Systems at UNICT (DICAR). He has focused his research work on Indoor and Outdoor Comfort, Air Quality, Sustainable and Renewable Energy Systems.

Other News:

Presidency of ICOMOS ISCES

In December 2020, Franziska Haas, a member of the Task59 EURAC team, took over the presidency of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Energy and Sustainability (ISCES) from Peter Cox. The ISCES as one of the technical bodies of ICOMOS researches and promotes the understanding, protection, conservation and management of built cultural heritage through consideration of the requirements of energy, sustainability and climate change. ISCES provides a platform for exchange of ideas and dissemination of information (ISCES website under construction The committee has more than 60 members from all continents and contributes to a number of international initiatives, like the Climate Heritage Network and the ICOMOS Sustainable Development Goals Working Group (SDGWG).

IEA - SHC Task 59 Events:

Workshop: Responsible restoration of old buildings, Chambery – 17 November 2020
As part of the ATLAS project, the French partner “Sites & Cités remarquables de France” - hosted a workshop on the energy renovation of historic trans-alpine buildings. The public workshop focused on tools and methods to help renovate old structures in this area. The ATLAS 5th project meeting was successfully held during the two days after the event.

Seminar: General Principles and Thermal Upgrades in Traditional Buildings, online - 25 November 2020
Given to the Aberdeen Society of Architects, part of RIAS, the talk explored how to improve the thermal performance of traditional buildings, with examples of work carried out by Historic Environment Scotland. These case studies are also included in the HiBERATLAS. A recording of the lecture is available online.

Seminar: Fabric Monitoring for Traditional Buildings, online – 26 November 2020
Organised by HES, this was a brilliant seminar and considered different types of building performance monitoring that can help to inform a retrofit project. During the seminar, monitoring techniques discussed included hygrothermal measuring, U-values, air tightness tests and thermal imaging, among others.  
A recording of the fabric monitoring seminar is available.

Energy renovation of the historic building: a sustainable issue under debate, online - 02 December 2020
On December 2, 2020, the ATLAS project partner SUPSI with its Institute for Applied Sustainability to the Built Environment held an online event in Italian language for a small group of interested people and local Swiss stakeholders on the topic of safeguarding - in a sustainable way - historical and cultural heritage.
For more information, please visit the ATLAS website. Alpine Space (
Building Integrated Photovoltaics - Status Report 2020, online – 28 January 2021
On January 28th SUPSI will organize a Webinar to present the BIPV Status Report 2020, to inform the scientific community of the latest developments in this field. The BIPV Status Report 2020, developed by SUPSI and Becquerel Institute, aims to provide a practical handbook to all stakeholders of the BIPV development process, providing insights on the topic from the different perspectives specific to each actor. To register, please visit the event website.

Keep in touch #HistoricNZEB


We would like to keep our subscribers up to date on events concerning the energy performance of historic buildings and their energy-related renovations. If you know of any events, please email us. We would love to hear from you!
Please forward this free newsletter to those of your colleagues who might be interested in subscribing to our newsletter. You can find more information about the project and its current activities on our project website and on Twitter and now LinkedIn. You can also follow #Task59.


Project particulars

Renovating Historic Buildings Towards Zero Energy (HistoricNZEB) is a project for the International Energy Agency, as Task 59 and Annex 76 of the agency’s Solar Heating & Cooling Programme and Energy in Buildings & Communities Programme respectively.

The project’s full title is: Deep Renovation of Historic Buildings Towards Lowest Possible Energy Demand and CO2 Emissions (NZEB). The abbreviation in the title stands for Net Zero Energy Building.

The project is led by EURAC Research, a research organisation in Bolzano / Bozen, Italy. The project coordinator, Ms. Alexandra Troi, Vice Head of EURAC’s Institute for Renewable Energy, can be contacted by email at:

This newsletter is coordinated by Historic Environment Scotland, a public body of the Scottish Government.
Copyright © 2020 The Project Partners of Deep Renovation of Historic Buildings Towards Lowest Possible Energy Demand and CO2 Emissions (NZEB), except for the imagery, which is copyrighted as stated

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HNZEB · c/o Historic Environment Scotland · Longmore House, Salisbury Place · Edinburgh, Scotland EH91SH · United Kingdom

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